Pearl Baker Reserve playground a shining gem

Publish Date : 26 Apr 2024
The refreshed Pearl Baker Reserve playground.
The refreshed Pearl Baker Reserve playground with accessible footpath that goes right around the reserve.

Ōtara residents are thrilled with the Pearl-fect $1.3 million makeover of a popular local playground.

After more than 25 years, the Pearl Baker Reserve playground and footpath has had a major upgrade thanks to Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board, creating a fun and vibrant space for all.

Just like Aorere Park playground in Papatoetoe, the playground was blessed by kaumātua Chris Pomare on Wednesday 18 April, and local board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia says, “You can tell from the street just how fantastic the playground space looks now.

“Before it was even officially opened, our team noticed some residents passing by were so impressed that they wanted to know if it was already open. They drove off and returned later with a bunch of kids in tow!”

All equipment and materials used on the project are sourced locally and from around New Zealand.

Physical works began in January and the playground includes a variety of swings, a half basketball court, pavilion with benches, sensory ninja logs, large rolling hills cable tower, mini ground trampoline, carousel/spinner, preschool adventure mini tower with slides and outdoor fitness equipment.

“Pearl Baker Reserve playground has various activities and play for people to enjoy. It is spacious, and it complements the reserve's open surroundings. The board is pleased to witness another local play area receive an upgrade it truly deserves,” says Apulu.

Considerable effort has been dedicated to ensuring every aspect of the playground meets the community's expectations and that the recreational facilities are fit-for-purpose.

Apulu adds, “We are responding to our community’s needs. Thanks to My Streets programme, who advocated for and contributed towards the playground, this is a great reminder to us all, of how important coming together as a resident group like the My Streets programme, can help influence what happens in our communities.”

Alongside the My Streets programme involvement, another important enhancement to the playground is the integration of accessibility, inspired by the legacy of the late Fa'anānā Efeso Collins, a former board chair and ward councillor.

“This is a great way to honour the far-reaching impacts of Fa'anānā Efeso Collins works. He wanted to ensure that people with disabilities and our families that utilise prams, have easy access. A kindergarten that sits in the reserve, a local primary school, and a kohanga are both within a short distance and it’s not far from the East Tāmaki Rugby Football Club. Our team have managed to create a wider and improved footpath that connects the playground and loops around the entire reserve”, Apulu concludes.

The grand opening of the playground is set for July, with plans to include a volleyball area by May 2024, and efforts are underway to meet the community's request for a community garden in the reserve.

Pearl Baker Reserve playground.

Pearl Baker Reserve playground being blessed by kaumātua Chris Pomare.

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